A content experiment which broke the internet

This is the story of a content experiment which grew so big, it smashed our benchmarks and created a whole new level of ‘Crazy’. It was early January and from the trends predicted for 2016, we knew this year belonged to videos. Videos are raining everywhere, from Facebook news-feeds to family groups on WhatsApp.

More than 50% of mobile traffic is already dominated by videos, coupled with sky-rocketing mobile users in the country, it’s not just about videos but videos made for mobile. This is the story of how we took an innocent little content post and packaged it into a short and crisp video which hit 50 million views in under 3 weeks!

Are You Kidding Me?

The challenge was to take a listicle with interesting content and fascinating pictures and convert it into a video. It had to move fast and engage and not look like a slideshow (hate those lousy slideshows with cheesy animations). The strategy for a video listicle was born. Little did we know that this little experiment done on near zero budget will catapult our reach, engagement, and conversions to mount Everest.

The Results – Beach Please!

We know from experience if something has viral potential, the numbers snowball, shares and views accelerate by the hour. The video hit a million views in ten hours, and on Day 3 the views were accelerating at a staggering 11,000 views per minute! Heres the video

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In One Week:

  • The video hit 40 million views
  • Shared by a million users
  • Received 300,000 comments
  • Reached 150 million news-feeds on Facebook
  • Added 200,000 new fans to our Facebook page
  • Made ixigo Facebook page the fastest growing in the country on that day
  • Got 20,000+ additional app installs for ixigo apps

“A travel video that broke the internet”
Gizmodo

“ixigo proves Facebook (not YouTube) is the place for video marketing”
Tnooz

“ixigo lists world’s most unusual beaches”
Inshorts

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All In One Week – Look Closely!

“The power of content marketing is the fact that a near zero budget video can compete with a TV Ad and beat it with numbers!”

Learnings – From The Trenches

  • First 3-6 seconds are the most crucial: News-feeds are getting chaotic, human attention spans are dropping. First impression is crucial (thumbnail image), but the ‘second first impression’ is the first 3-6 seconds, we need to move fast, engage and get them to hit ‘share’, the magical metric for viral content.
  • Sound elevates: Even though Facebook auto-plays the video, music/sound plays a big role. A bad quality video I’ll watch but bad sound is a deal breaker. The sound / music must elevate the visuals.
  • Move fast: Nothing must be static even for one frame: we panned pictures, added fast moving globe transitions. Videos are called moving pictures for a reason ;)
  • Square videos: The vertical/square videos which vine/Instagram started work well for mobile audiences since the format is native to mobiles. You don’t have to tilt the screen and they take up more real estate on the phone. And it’s no rocket science to know that mobile traffic is killing desktop in India!
  • Facebook video: Facebook has sharing in it’s DNA, not so much on YouTube. Facebook videos work when they are short, fast moving and tell the story in moving picture more than dialogues. You can use a call to action buttons on videos and most importantly Facebook provides kick-ass distribution for video content compared to YouTube.
  • Keep Experimenting: We replicated the practices into a Republic Day video, which hit a decent million in 3 days. Operate like a movie studio, do ten experiment, two will work

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One More Thing, Seriously!

In the last two years, it has been a roller coaster ride in producing, distributing and decoding a viral content. I’m compiling it all into a non-nonsense book. It has the stories of learnings from the content marketing trenches, of how experiments became best practices for multi-million views viral videos. About creating viral-worthy content, the art of news-jacking, earning users’ trust and coming up with topics for the next game changer. Join the mailing list and I will update you when it comes out.

The article is written by Aashish Chopra, Head – Content Marketing, ixigo and an award winning viral video marketer. 

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Aashish Chopra is an award winning viral video marketer, having made and marketed videos with millions of shares and gazillion views, with one becoming Asia’s most shared branded Facebook post (Campaign Asia) and other getting 40 million views in a week. He is passionate about content and believes that in the times of declining attention spans and chaotic news-feeds, creativity is the differentiator. He heads content marketing at ixigo. From ideation to execution he has been instrumental in making video marketing a growth hack for ixigo.
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